Samuel Martin Jordan

Samuel Martin JordanDr. Samuel Martin Jordan (1871-1952) was an American Presbyterian Missionary in Iran, founder and President of the American College of Tehran. He was known as the "Father of Modern Education in Iran". He was born on January 6, 1871 near Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, United States to James Cowden Jordan and Mary Rosanna Mitchell. Dr. Jordan was named after his famous clergyman great-grandfather, Samuel Martin and grew up on his parents' farm in childhood as a good boy.

Jorden's Education

He educated in one-room schoolhouses and he prepared for college at Stewartstown's English and Classical Institute. Then he taught school for three or four years before entering Lafayette College,
Name: Samuel Martin Jordan (1871-1952)
Born : 06, January 1871, Stewartstown
Father : James Cowden Jordan
Mother: Mary Rosanna Mitchel
Wife : Mary Wood Park
Mission work: Iran, West Asia (1898-1945)
Known as: Father of Modern Education in Iran
Died: 21 June, 195, Los Angeles, California
Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1891, where he excelled at athletics as well as academics. At Lafayette, he joined the Franklin Literary Society and the Young Mens' Christian Association. Like many young-men of his generation, he was moved by hearing missionaries on furlough describe their work. He also decided to become a missionary during his first term at college and he was elected president of his class and captain of the football team, on which he played center for three years and he had been designated by scientists as a ministerial student.


His education was elegant. After completing his degree at Lafayette, he studied at both Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary. In 1898, he completed his theology degree and he was ordained as a Presbyterian Minister on August 30, 1898. He met Mary Wood Park, daughter of Presbyterian clergyman Charles H. Park, while an undergraduate at Lafayette; she had been a teacher at her brother’s private school in the town and married Mary Wood Park in 1898.

Mission Work at Tehran

Dr.Samuel Martin Jordan
Dr.Samuel Martin Jordan
On September 17, 1898, Jordan and Mrs. Jordan sailed from New York for Iran. They arrived in Tehran on November 2, 1898, having made the last legs of their journey by boat to Anzali, astride horses in a caravan from Rast to Qazvin and by horse-drawn carriage from Qazvin to Tehran. On arrival in Tehran, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions appointed Jordan principal of its Boys’ School (it was established in 1872), which at that time had fewer than 150 elementary students. Over the next decades Jordan built it into a college. He worked much of his time and energy as college president seeking private American financial and staff support. He had much success, recruiting excellent instructors, some of whom went on to become college presidents in their own right, and raising funds for a new college campus. He bought more than forty acres outside the city wall in 1913, near the Yusefabad gate. On this land, he built the college’s new facilities. Jordan’s mission work at Tehran led him to the next level.


He spent 43 years as a missionary in Iran. Under his direction, the establishment that later took the name of Alborz High School was upgraded to the American College of Tehran and received a permanent charter from the Board of Regents of the State University of New York in 1932. Dr. Jordan served as President of the institution from 1899 until 1940. He received the first Scientific Medal of Iran in 1940. He served the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions (PCUSA) as an Educator in Iran from 1898 until he retired to Los Angeles in 1941. Jordan was an enthusiastic publicist, and he made clear that he sought to blend Iran’s traditions with American energy. Jordan’s methods of education reflected his own experience and ideals. He sought to instill in Iran what he called the equality of men and women. In July 1918, Dr. Jordan also came down with typhus. For a month he was too ill to be moved from the heat of the city. Not until September could he return to work.

American College Tehran
American College Tehran

Father of Modern Education in Iran

Despite his final departure in 1945, Jordan was remembered and honored in Iran. In 1948 the College’s alumni organization unveiled a bust of him in the vestibule of the auditorium which had been named by the Ministry of Education Jordan Hall in his honor, most enduring in memory, the imperial government named a new boulevard in northern Tehran after him. Since the revolution the republic calls it Africa Avenue, but in popular usage it remains Jordan. He was known as the “Father of Modern Education in Iran”.

Jordan’s death

He expired on June 21, 1952 at Los Angeles, California, United States and he was buried in Centre Presbyterian Church’s cemetery, New Park. After his death; there was a vast outpouring of affection for Jordan at a memorial service held on the Alborz campus, Tehran on 2 July 1952. Over 1,000 people attended and many of his former students made memorial speeches. In appreciation of his many pioneering services to the Higher Education in Iran, a boulevard in Tehran, Jordan Boulevard was named after him. Although after the 1979 Iranian Revolution this street's name was changed (to Africa), the old name is still widely used. A statue of him, perhaps the only of a Westerner in Iran at the time, which is still on display in Amirkabir University, was dedicated in Alborz High School. Further, a theater in Tehran was named after him. On 21 April 2005, the micro technology pioneer Fariborz Maseeh (founder of IntelliSense) and the Massiah Foundation pledged $2 million to create an innovative interdisciplinary research center at UC Irvine named "The Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture" that will bring together scholars in Persian history, language, culture, art and literature.


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